He Got This One Right!

If you’ve heard of Richard Dawkins, you’ll recognize him as arguably the world’s most famous living atheist.  Dawkins is an emeritus professor of evolutionary biology at Oxford University and has produced various popular books on that subject, but what he is notorious for are his scathing attacks on all forms of religious belief, most notably in his 2006 international bestselling book: The God Delusion.

Though there is nothing particularly novel about either Dawkins’ atheistic views or the arguments he uses to support them, he has become the celebrity spokesman for many skeptics by virtue of the ferocious way he attacks religious belief with pungent and memorable ‘sound bites’ (e.g.: “When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called Religion.”)  This has made him a hero in certain circles and demonized him in others.  However, the critics of Dawkins are not limited to those who disagree with his religious beliefs: numerous prominent intellectuals have pointed out that Dawkins’ arguments are singularly lacking in the scientific objectivity that he claims to so highly value.  Nobel laureate Peter Higgs[1], himself an atheist, went so far as to declare that Dawkins’ approach is “embarrassing” and analogous to the “religious fundamentalism” that Dawkins so harshly criticizes.

But though a great deal could be (and has been) said about the intellectual dishonesty of Dawkins’ so-called ‘scientific’ arguments against God, our intention here is not to belabor that point, but rather to highlight one of his rare observations which is undeniably accurate – a case where he stated an important truth about God that should be carefully digested by both Christians and skeptics alike.

Now, even a casual perusal of Dawkins’ public comments will reveal that his favorite way to attack a belief in God is to first sketch a ridiculously small picture of Him, and then to sneeringly mock that ridiculous image.   It was in that spirit that Dawkins smugly pronounced this gem:

“If there is a God, it’s going to be a whole lot bigger and a whole lot more incomprehensible than anything that any theologian of any religion has ever proposed.”

Since Dawkins considers ‘God’ to be an invention of theologians, his belittlement of their imaginative powers seems to him to be an attack on the whole ‘God delusion.’  But what he has actually captured is an important truth that negates every argument against God that he (or anyone else) can conceive of.  You see, what Dawkins apparently doesn’t grasp is that the God of Christian belief (we’ll let other beliefs speak for themselves) is not limited to what our theologians (or anyone else) knows or can imagine about Him.

What we can know with certainty about God is only that which He has chosen to reveal about Himself, and anyone who reads the Bible seriously realizes that God necessarily tones down His self-descriptions so that our puny intellects don’t recoil in utter bafflement (or terror).   The Bible doesn’t describe God.  It sketches only that miniscule fraction of the total Divine Reality that is relevant to His plan for our salvation.  Thus it is that, rather than diminishing God, each new discovery that enlarges the scale and complexity of the universe and its laws demonstrates only how much larger is the power and majesty of the Lord who created and reigns over it!

So Dawkins got this one absolutely right!  Unlike the figment of human imaginations that he likes to belittle, the real God who created and rules over the cosmos is far bigger and vastly more incomprehensible than what any human intellect can ever hope to grasp.  As He Himself has said:

 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
  (Isaiah 55:9)

[1] Science geeks will recognize Higgs as the theoretical high-energy physicist who postulated the existence of the Higgs Boson (aka ‘the god particle’) which was experimentally confirmed with much fanfare at CERN in 2012.

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